How Do You Learn From Mistakes?

I can’t believe how long I have been reading quotes and hearing mentors say how “mistakes are so great because the more mistakes you make the more successful you’ll be” – but I couldn’t figure out how mistakes make you successful? Total question mark on that one.

Then finally somehow I figured out – it’s not about the mistake – it’s about carefully debriefing the mistake. Duh! – it seems so obvious now.

Now I spend time (need to spend more still) in DEBRIEF MODE – a time set aside to learn from my mistakes. Whether that’s each day, or just after a mistake, or anytime the need arises.

I get away from my computer, with a pad of paper and a pencil and I simply write out the project/call/situation – whatever the topic of the mistake was, and think: Ok, what happened here? When did I start feeling that it was going sideways? Why didn’t I stop and correct? What is the big message, lesson, takeaway? Ok, so when I run this project again what new pieces do I need to build? What logistics do I need to take care of in advance? What just did not work for me – gut wise – and what are my boundaries going to be?

If I know all this upfront, then it’s as good as done the next time around – and voila – Success!

One of the big mistakes I’ve made over and over in the past, (this is before I figured out how to debrief) is not investing in myself and my business. Trying to figure everything else out on my own. Banging my head against the wall and not getting anywhere but thinking somehow things were magically going to change. In June I got to the point where I just knew I had to make a major shift. I was working SO HARD and not making near the income that I felt I was worth. I just didn’t know how to package and price my services. I wish I could say I really DEBRIEFED my past mistakes to realize that where I needed to change was to start seriously investing in my business and make a quantum leap to follow a mentor – and pay the big bucks to do so. But it was less a debrief than a “this is your final chance” feeling. So I did it, made a big investment in learning how to leverage my time and market myself online, and it has been one the best decisions I’ve ever made.

So, if you find yourself frustrated, knowing your business could be doing better, it’s time to DEBRIEF and look at the reality – What do you need, and who can give you the guidance and answers you need? Make the quantum leap and I guarantee things will shift.


  1. Interesting read Cristi and I agree it’s all about the debrief. I’d add debriefing successes can be even more valuable to ensure the lesson learned sticks. I’m curious, who was the “big investment” online marketing mentor and what was your biggest lesson learned from her?

  2. Hi Tara!
    I love your observation – that is brilliant! – to debrief successes also, I will add that to my routine!! I’ve got to tell you, I am spending more time than ever in Debrief mode and it is really powerful. Yes of course, I don’t mind sharing what my big investment was – I joined Lisa Sasevich’s mastermind after a looooong time of trying to “figure it out myself”. So that was in June, and I am amazed at how quickly I’ve been able to accelerate. It’s not all roses, I mean it’s very hard work, but I am getting great traction and I love it. I could not have done it without her encouragement and frameworks. My biggest lesson learned from her – is to think WAY bigger. Thoughts can be very limiting. (that’s of course in addition to all the systems and structures she teaches about how to leverage your knowledge to serve more people). So, my DEBRIEF on that whole thing, was to invest in my business – sometimes in a WAY bigger way than I imagined – to get the Quantum Leaps. xo

  3. Hi Christie. The first step is even owning the mistake. Usually, our defense mechanism to something not going the way we had hoped is to find a way to blame someone or something, to avoid taking responsibility. You can never learn from a situation where you don’t see your role in at least co-creating it. The second step is to see it as a lesson to be learned and not a total character failure. You can learn a lesson, you can correct or adjust or tweak a situation, but you can’t fix a shame attack. And the third thing is – what’s your next step? I just heard a great quote from Winston Churchill that I will paraphrase – that you can obtain success when you can endure failure after failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

  4. Hi Hanna!
    Thank you for adding your thoughts – actually more like a really great “process” – to the conversation! I loved your point about making sure you don’t see the lesson as a total character failure. So true. Thanks!

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